Sarah Spring ParadigmLast changed 11/14 1:05A EDT
Edits - minor 11/13/14
Director of Speech & Debate - University of Houston
Previously coaching at (Iowa, Miami (Ohio), Wake Forest)
As of the 2014 Shirley - I have judged (according to Debateresults + tabroom):
475 - College Debates
I have voted AFF in 226 of those debates (47.5%)
I have voted NEG in 249 of those debates (52.4%)
First rule of judging - judging is subjective.
Second rule of judging - get over it.
Judge philosophies are in fact an attempt to compensate for this inevitably subjective activity. We try to minimize personal opinions, but in the end who you vote for is more than often related to how you feel and the style of the debaters as much as it is about any particular argument. You have to convince the judge (me) to vote for you. This is as subjective as really any other activity.
T - A paradox - I am a bad judge for T. I love T debates.
Competing interpretations doesn't make much sense to me because the aff can't win on T. Reasonability is largely good (I am not a good judge for trivial interpretations like "and/or means both") - see above re: subjectivity. Reasonability is also a good answer to most affirmative theory complaints.
Legal topics are ideal for T debates, given that the law is all about definition. I find these questions interesting, but in order to win on T with me as a judge, you typically need to have insightful argument and some decent evidence about the educational harm (and not just to negative ground) of the affirmative's interpretation. These arguments, of course, can take many forms, but be careful.
Avoid specification arguments. Please. While implementation might be 90% of whatever, ASPEC is still not a reason to reject the affirmative.
I think T is an important check against non-topical affs, you have to read a plan and defend the federal government and your plan, reading the resolutions does not seem to be enough. Switch-side debate is a good thing.
Framework/Non-plan Topicality arguments -
Framework debates are not fun. I judge them a lot.I think that these debates have both gotten stale and also very detached from the actual arguments at hand. Both sides would do well to connect their arguments to the actual positions relevant to their debate. My previous statements about reasonability tend to apply in these questions as well. A small advantage to an very limiting interpretation is often not enough for me to justify a ballot.
The best framework debates don't read the Shively card.
My suggestion is to try to have a good interpretation that takes the middle ground, this will make me much more sympathetic and open to listening to your arguments. A violation is often overlooked by both sides, but is often where the crux of the decision lies - don't neglect this (or the "we meet")
Theory – I think in general most aff theory arguments are reasons to reject the argument not the team. That means theory is rarely rarely a voting issue for me.
Conditionality - I think conditionality is a good and necessary thing. Dispositionality is not a thing. I am open to kicking CPs on my own (without the encouragement of the negative) - I do indeed possess that power.
PICS (or whatever) is not a reason to reject the team, only the position, in these cases if the CP goes away the aff would still win.
International agent fiat, in some cases, may be a legitimate test of the necessity of USFG action.
50 State Fiat - eh?
Disads – Politics DAs are my favorite.
I won’t vote on 1% risk.
Magnitude and probability are far more important than timeframe.
"DA turns the case" by itself is not a full argument.
Also "DA turns the case" is often wrong, the DA impact must complicate the aff's ability to solve or access the internal link to the impact, not just be the same impact. The aff should point this out.
Don't read a bunch of new impacts in the block unless you've got a real reason to do so. Most teams won't have a reason beyond, we didn't feel like answering their arguments.
Case debate. I think debate should be more in depth debating of the specifics of an aff, I will reward hard work and understanding on the topic, which is often demonstrated in good case debating. The more specific your strategy is, the better.
Reading impact defense to all of their impacts does not count as a case debate (maybe necessary, but certainly not sufficient).
There are rules for debating the case - http://goo.gl/FliJY The treaties topic was awesome because of case debates.
CPs – Most are good. I really like a smart advantage CP. Consult CPs and Condition CPs are cheating. How much cheating? It depends. See above on theory.
Critiques are often times strategic and I also think can be won very easily because the aff doesn’t attack the argument at its weaknesses. Weakness include, the alternative, the links to the aff (and not to the law, society, etc), other stuff. I often end up voting for Ks when the aff fails to contest these issues.
Framework arguments are usually underdeveloped on off-case Ks, this makes me not vote on these arguments.
Like any other argument, it has to be well explained. I also have an inherent distaste for generic backfile Ks (or consult CPs or Framework ....) that you have resurrected year after year because you were too lazy to do any work. I like debating new topics, don’t just cut one new Zizek book and consider your work done.
As an academic, I think I know a bit about critical theory and so forth -as a rhetorician there are things I like by trade - critiques of rhetoric, language and discourse, well executed understandings of theory, that is to say criticism of actual instances of things that are objectionable. Things that I don't like (or understand very well) include vague psychoanalytic theory (ie Zizek) or rabbit-holes of very complicated post-structuralism - the event of the non-part or something.
Other things – I don’t like reading a lot of cards after the debate, although I know I will at times, I change my mind on this every couple of months. Right now, I'll probably skim a lot of cards and read some carefully.
I will also probably be open to getting emailed your evidence during the debate, but won't really want to look at it until the end of the debate. Maybe during CX or prep to figure out something I missed. Maybe. I do think it is incumbent on the teams in the debate to communicate to the judge verbally, not via email.
If I have to reconstruct the debate I might not see it like you think it happened. The final speeches MUST do this for me.
I've taken to answering some questions in CX, particularly informative questions, especially if I think an answer might be confusing. How many perms? I'll answer. If you are just wrong about something, I might say something.
I'm very emotive during debates, you should look up and see if I'm scowling or nodding, this can be a clue (to what? I don't know, but to something).
Underviews are the worst thing ever.
I also think the 1NR should not be used to make new arguments. It is a rebuttal not a constructive.
Terms that have lost meaning to me - "Role of the Ballot," "the debate space" (more later)
Speaker Points – I think I give fairly good points, simply because I think most debaters deserve a chance at clearing if they have the wins.
My scale goes something like this;
26.5 and below – bad debating,
26.6 - 27 - Needs a lot of work,
27 -27.5 – average, but has a way to go,
27.5-28 - better than average, some things to work on,
28-28.5 – Good varsity debating.
28.6 - 29 - Very good - should be in contention for a speaker award.
29-29.5 – Excellent debating
29.6 - 29.9 - Almost Gabe.
30 – Gabe
I will punish your speaker points for lack of clarity, rudeness, or inappropriate language (these issues could also result in a loss).
I think clipping is bad, though I'm not sure what the threshold is to warrant a ballot. These questions stop the debate. If you are making an accusation of cheating, I will decide the debate on that question. You need to be fairly certain to make this kind of claim, so be ready to explain.